# Introduction to theory of computation

19 March, 2020 - 3 min read

This post seeks to introduce the reader to what theory of computation is all about and how computers can be better understood on a fundamental level.

Are there problems that a computing machine cannot solve?, no matter:

- The superiority of the algorithm
- The programming language used
- The hardware we use

If the problems exist, how do we identify them.

These questions are answered in theory of computation.

## Branches of Theory of Computation

**Complexity theory**- A theory of problem classification, the easy problems and the hard problems.**Computability theory**- A theory on how to classify problems into intractable and tractable problems.-
**Automata theory**- A theory that studies abstract computing machines, the definitions and attributes of different computation models.- Finite Automata - Are useful models used in different kinds of hardware and software.
- Software for regulating the behavior of circuits
- Lexical analyzer for compilers
- Text processors
- Context Free Grammars - Models for defining programming languages.
- Turing Machines - An abstract model of a computer e.g a PC.

## Introduction to Theory of Computation Solutions

- Pattern recognition in text i.e string searching algorithms.
- Identifying tractable and intractable problems
- Compiler design
- Spell checkers
- Evaluating arithmetic problems
- Implementation of genetic programming
- Implementation of neural networks
- Implementation of robotics problems

## Finite Automata

Some systems can be viewed as being in one of a finite number of states. The state is used to remember the important part of the history. Finite automata allows the implementation of systems with finite computing resources.

A typical example is an off/on switch. The device must remember it's state, off or on and allows a user to change the state depending on the current switch state.

It is a method for defining languages. This model is said to be finite because the possible states and number of alphabet letters are **finite.** The changes in state is determined by input.

**Finite Automata has**:

- Finite set of state, initial state and final states
- An alphabet of possible input symbols
- Finite set of transitions that takes a state and symbol of input and gives the state to go to next.

### Deterministic Finite State Automaton

A deterministic finite automaton is an abstract device where one can determine the state to which the machine will move for each input string. It is a device that:

- Has one initial state
- At least one accept state
- Always in one of a finite number of state
- Is attached to an input stream
- Capable of switching state which is uniquely determined by the current state and symbol read from the input.